Album Speculation: Fleetwood Mac "Rumours"

Album Speculation: Fleetwood Mac "Rumours"

My father had a record collection located downstairs and what had to be one of the ugliest sound systems I have ever bore witness to. It looked like a jumbled mess of wires and metal boxes to my eight-year-old self. My mother hated his sound system, which was obscurely placed beside the laundry room.  

“When are you going to throw that thing away?” my mother would ask. 

“That thing is worth over six hundred dollars,” my father would insist. As an adult who has been involved with the sale of vinyl records for the past seven years, his ugly sound system was worth fifty bucks tops, and even that might be on the high end. 

When I wasn’t fighting with my older brother over the most pointless kid shit imaginable, I would glance through my father’s vinyl collection. The majority of his albums were from the mid to late seventies. This was around the time my father would have been in high school. He had a lot of the classics; Meatloaf “Bat Out of Hell”, Tom Petty “Damn the Torpedoes”, and hidden within the mix was a copy of Fleetwood Mac’s iconic album “Rumours”. As I glanced the cover over, I asked myself what the hell a Fleetwood Mac was. 

I had never operated my father’s turntable to that point. I may have saw him put on an album or two, but aside from this, I really had no idea what the fuck I was doing. As I placed the album on the turntable, likely scratching the album with the needle in the process, I was immediately transfixed by the vocals and lyrics which echoed from the speakers. The first song which played was “Second Hand News”, led by Lindsay Buckinghams distinctive vocals. The following song, however, soon became one of my favorites; “Dreams” which was led by Stevie Nicks astounding vocals. Could she lay down a line or what? 

I remember listening to the record from start to finish as I sat on the floor in front of the trashy sound system, and even at that point in time, I knew the album was something special. I didn’t know precisely why “Rumours” was special until years later when I would come to view “Rumours” as being among a select few albums produced which didn’t have a bad song. I mean, “Never Going Back Again” may be a lazy song, but even as arguably the worst song on the album, it wasn’t a bad song. 

The nineteen seventies was an incredible decade for music. In particular, the year 1977 was particularly exceptional, given the fact that “Rumours” was up against not only The Eagles “Hotel California”, but also Steely Dan’s “Aja”, James Taylors “J.T.”, and even John Williams “Star Wars” soundtrack. With such a steep year for music, “Rumours” still managed to take home the coveted Album of the Year.  

Fleetwood Mac was formed a decade earlier in London in 1967, and was primarily a blues band. Their initial albums were missing a couple key ingredients which would later lead to the band experiencing monumental success; and those key ingredients came in the form of vocalists Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. 

Lindsay and Stevie had an album produced as a rock duo in September of 1973. The fittingly titled; Buckingham Nicks. The album itself received limited airplay, and the album cover, which features a topless Nicks and shirtless Buckingham caused tension between the two. Nicks didn’t dig being coerced into taking a nude picture for the album cover. Although the album was not a mainstream success by any means, it did find a fan in Fleetwood Mac drummer, Mick Fleetwood. Mick dug the track “Frozen Love”, which eventually led him to invite Buckingham and Nicks to join Fleetwood Mac on New Years Eve in 1974. The duo accepted the offer, and in 1975, the band with their new line up would release what became Fleetwood Mac’s tenth studio album, which was self-titled. This album would become a smash fucking hit, selling seven million copies worldwide, reaching number one on the US Billboard 200, and featuring two monster hits; “Rhiannon” led by Nicks sultry vocals, as well as “Landslide”, arguably the bands best written song, which was also led by Nicks vocals.  

Although the bands tenth album is now considered by many to be a monumental to success, it was the bands 1977 album “Rumours” which cemented them as one of the greatest rock bands of all time. The reason for “Rumours” becoming as successful as it has may have played heavily on the fact that two romantic relationships within the band were collapsing, causing the songwriting to become raw and consumed with unflinching emotion. An example of this unflinching emotion can be heard through Buckingham’s gripping lyrics to “Go Your Own Way”, which was a response to his breakup with Stevie Nicks. Simultaneous to Buckingham and Nicks breakup, vocalist Christine McVie and bassist John McVie had also gotten a divorce in 1976, which undoubtedly play a role in the raw songwriting contained within the album. 

In the years since I played “Rumours” on a turntable for the first time when I was eight, I have gone back to the album time and time again. It’s not difficult to see why. Even after having directly and indirectly selling nearly 18,000 albums to date, and having listened to close to the same amount of albums, “Rumour's” for me remains the single best album ever produced. From its incredible vocals, influential instrumentals, to the song lyrics consumed with unflinching emotion, to music collectors, both young and old, the album remains an essential listen.  

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